French change tack as ty­phoon turns up the heat

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World Cup -

in Fukuoka

French play­ers have strug­gled to cope with the weather con­di­tions here ahead of their meet­ing with the United States to­day.

The weather has be­come more ex­treme due to Ty­phoon Mi­tang, which is due to pass over this city, and for­mer Northamp­ton Saints No 8 Louis Pi­camoles, cap­tain­ing Les Bleus for the first time, said it has been a con­sid­er­a­tion in how his side trained for the game.

There was no rain as the French pre­pared, but they trudged through sti­fling hu­mid­ity of 83 per cent in tem­per­a­tures close to 30C. “We are a bit sur­prised, we had heard about the weather con­di­tions here but it’s some­thing we have not ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore,” said Pi­camoles.

“This weather is ex­tra­or­di­nary. We can be pre­pared for rain, but such high lev­els of hu­mid­ity and high tem­per­a­tures are not some­thing I have ex­pe­ri­enced, so we have had to adapt.”

It was clear dur­ing the cap­tain’s run held at the match venue – the Fukuoka Hakatanomo­ri Sta­dium – that train­ing had been mod­i­fied. The squad be­gan with a gen­tle warm-up, which was as stren­u­ous as play­ers sim­ply walk­ing and then slowly jog­ging around the pitch in small groups, pass­ing balls. Dur­ing the main ses­sion, play­ers such as An­toine Dupont and wing Damian Pe­naud, who have been left out of the team by Jac­ques Brunel for this fix­ture, played the part of the Amer­i­cans and were run­ning, while starters in­clud­ing Toulouse wing Yoann Huget looked to be con­serv­ing en­ergy by walk­ing or jog­ging.

Gael Fickou, who looked re­ju­ve­nated at cen­tre in France’s 23-21 vic­tory

A lead­ing role: Louis Pi­camoles will cap­tain France for the first time in to­day’s match over Ar­gentina, will earn his 50th cap in the Pool B fix­ture, which no doubt Eng­land will watch with in­ter­est hav­ing seen so lit­tle of the French thus far. The 25-year-old was also mov­ing ex­tremely slowly.

How­ever, play­ers seemed to be tak­ing the chal­lenge in good spir­its. Pe­naud donned gar­den­ing gloves at one point to show just how dif­fi­cult it was to get a grip on the ball.

There had been fears that the match could be called off due to the ty­phoon but World Rugby, in con­sul­ta­tion with the Ja­pan Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Agency, made the call for it to go ahead as the worst weather was pre­dicted to hit far­ther west, out to sea. Ac­cord­ing to the JMA, this 18th ty­phoon of the year was yes­ter­day over the East China Sea head­ing north to the Korean Penin­sula and Sea of Ja­pan.

The JMA pre­dicts the north­ern area of Kyushu, in­clud­ing Fukuoka, can ex­pect 120mm of rain in the 24 hours up to kick-off.

France

Re­place­ments United States Ref­eree Kick-off

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